Monday, June 29, 2009

Oldest image of St Paul

Vatican archeologists have discovered what they believe is the oldest image of St. Paul known to date. They found it in the catacombs of St Thecla, which are near the basilica of St. Paul in Rome.

More details here

Monday, June 08, 2009

Two American journalists sentenced

Please pray for their release. They were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea, for illegal entry. Laura Ling and Euna Lee are based in San Francisco and were investigating the plight of women and children trying to flee the country.

The sentence cannot be appealed. Conditions in North Korean labor camps are said to be harsh and life-threatening. Malnutrition, beatings and other rights abuses are rampant according to human rights groups.

Ms. Ling suffers from an ulcer and needs medication. Ms. Lee has a four-year-old daughter at home in California.

Full story here

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sin is an obstacle to the spiritual life

Well, that should seem obvious, shouldn't it? If we lived in a sane world, it would be. But we don't live in a sane world.
I've been thinking about this because of what happened last week in Miami with Fr Alberto Cutie. Unless you've been on a fishing trip with no outside communication, you know that this priest who had been photographed frolicking on the beach with his girlfriend left the Catholic Church and joined the Episcopal Church. Last Sunday--the feast of Pentecost--he gave his first sermon in the Episcopal Church. According to one news report he said something to the effect that the Church is all about forgiveness. I guess he forgot that repentance and conversion are supposed to come before forgiveness. Otherwise it's what Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace."

If we lived in a sane world, Cutie would be off in a monastery somewhere doing penance after the revelation of his 2-year affair with this woman. Instead, he got himself a pulpit and a church full of supporters who applauded him. He could have asked to be laicized in order to be married. The Church allows for these cases. Instead, he renounced his Catholic faith. There is something wrong with this picture!

I'm not blogging about this to criticize him, but because scandals like this can disturb the faithful people who live their baptism by striving to avoid sin and practice virtue. They do this even when it costs them a lot in terms of sacrifice and self-denial. Then they see a priest do what Cutie did, and they can be tempted to think "what's the point?" of trying to live a Christian life.

These scandals can make us go back to Christian Life 101: avoid sin. Jesus started his ministry by preaching to people that they give up sin and be converted. Nothing keeps us from God except sin. We can fool ourselves that we can lead spiritual lives and keep up some habit of sin that we like. Today, with relativism all around us, it's easy to find a justification for anything. But that doesn't change the reality that sin keeps us from God. To grow in the spiritual life, we need to give up deliberate sin. It's a struggle and it doesn't happen all at once. As long as we never give up and live in a continual conversion, we're on our way to God.